The Columbus Blue Jackets (40-30-4) are in Vancouver tonight to face the Canucks (32-33-10) in the final game of their three-game Western Canada road trip. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 10:00 PM ET.
Losers of three straight, and seven of their last 11, the CBJ are desperately in need of points as they sit on the outside looking in at the current playoff picture.
When General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen made his moves at the trade deadline, nobody could have foreseen the way the club’s played of late. Critics have been making a lot of noise lately due to the recent struggles, but there’s still time for this squad to turn things around with 16 points up for grabs down the stretch.
The consensus in the dressing room has generally been that the team will snap out of it at some point. The chances the Jackets generate have to turn into goals eventually, right? It’s a way for those who are struggling (which is just about everybody) to remain calm and just keep playing. With time running out, however, perhaps that rationalization – the thought that things will get better – will turn to desperation. And maybe that’s a good thing.
In terms of opponent, tonight’s matchup against the Canucks is marginally better for the CBJ than their last one, the Edmonton Oilers, and considerably better than any others they’ve faced in the last few weeks.
Vancouver, however, comes in with nothing to lose. With the spoiler mentality and at least a point in five of their last six games, the Canucks will be playing tonight with confidence.
There’s not much else to say at this point in the season. The Blue Jackets need to capitalize on every chance they have. You can keep an eye on scores around the league, you can hope things play out elsewhere in the National Hockey League, but none of it will matter if you can’t pick up points when they’re available. With eight games and two weeks left in the regular season, it’s now or never for the CBJ.